News - 2016/17

Annual Dinner and Presentation Evening

Some photos from the evening, courtesy of Dave Hipperson

The Cups
The Cups
Display of Prints
Display of Prints
Before Dinner
Before Dinner
Sitting down to eat
Sitting down to eat
Potters Bar Trophy and Best Image at our own Interclub Landscape Competition
Interclub Trophy Winners
Sue AndersonI
Sue Anderson
Fjords
Connie Fitzgerald
Rosemary Wenzerul
Rosemary Wenzerul
John Jennings
John Jennings
Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell
Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell
Chris Gilbert and Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell
Joint Winners!
Chris Gilbert
Chris Gilbert

Print Of The Year. Judge Paul Mitchell FRPS (Amersham)

An enormous job for visiting judge Paul Mitchell. Sixty prints many of which had scored very highly in all manner of competitions through the year. The fact that club members, that had not scored quite so well with their prints, were also encouraged to enter up to three images each, and did so, was the reason for the large number of entries. Paul, much like Stan McCartin the week previous, did very well with his observations. When so many images are obviously going to be set aside and not figure in the final reckoning it makes for a much more positive evening when the judge can sound genuinely interested and spot something in every one. He might however have been a tiny bit dismissive of the mounting quality on a couple of entries from one of our newer members and we hope the member in question did not take it personally and can be assisted in improving in this area.

Paul selected ten for closer inspection. Dean Tyler had no less than seven pictures in, but surprisingly only got one through to this final round and it was his Morning Glory shot of the so called 'Banjo Pier' at Swanage that was commended along with Connie Fitzgerald's Dingle Peninsular , David Butlers Engine Driver and astonishingly Peter Winter's Village Weaver which most thought was destined for a higher place. To compensate slightly for Jeremy's Orang-utang PDI being passed over the week before, another even closer shot of the same creature Deep in Thought was highly commended as was his very graphic version of the Walkie Talkie building in the City entitled Walkie Scorchie. John Jennings' sensitive portrait of his father in law Another Year had impressed Paul but it had to make do with only a highly commended. John had no less than eight prints qualifying for this competition which in itself represents a great achievement.

Throughout it was obvious that our judge had a wide taste in image type, or rather didn't let any personal preferences show, in as much he was mixing, landscape, portrait, natural history and creative into his favourites. So it was that the last three were made up of John Jennings' atmospheric Come Back Safely To Me - 3rd. Peter Winter's wonderful Little Owl (and mouse) was 2nd. That left John Jennings' love it or hate it Bat out of Hell to be judged printed image of the year. John had so nearly taken the top three - phew. He was then delighted to be able to explain that this unusual but actually universally popular (certainly with all the people I have shown it to) shot was almost deleted at birth at he had a series preceding it all much more conventional and sharper!

Paul Mitchell has to be complimented on his all round performance this night. That was a great many prints and with so many of them being of a similar high quality a difficult job to put the top few dozen in any definitive order. His taste seemed pretty reasonable. Once again a very satisfactory evening for everyone.

Projected Image of the Year - Judge Stan McCartin LRPS CPAGB APAGB (Harrow CC). 8th June 2017

It was a very much on form Stan McCartin that came to judge our projected image of the year event. Great fun right from the start when he explained how he appreciated that this was competitive. None of this 'the pleasure of taking part malarkey". You are here to win! Always with a humorous story to hand he explained how he had once won the print of the year event at Harrow, his club of the time, or rather he had thought he had won it. The eagle eyed Jenny King (APAGB), when recording the details from the back of the prints in her usual meticulous fashion after the event, discovered that Stan's had actually never been in a competition before. Thus it was ineligible! Stan had inadvertently entered another almost identical version of one he had used and not realised!

The beauty of a 'best of' evening, when in the right hands, is that we get the opportunity to hear a second opinion. How closely does this judge agree with the first judge? Only the individual authors would be able to comment accurately on this but many times I heard aspects celebrated that had definitely got past the original judge. In my case I was very happy with how he saw the things in my images that I had hoped originally might be pleasing and had been missed! However his real trick was the way he approached each image in such a positive way, exploring the story that the author might have been trying to tell us and not over emphasising any small faults. After all these were our best pictures. We gather together to enjoy the images and see the best in them. Not run them into the ground. There was critique, comment and preference but always tinged with enthusiasm for the original idea. There are too many judges that don't take this approach.

From nearly 60 images he selected some 17 of his favourites and then cut them down further to a top three and a group of commendeds. There was a slight glitch when his technique of elimination became at odds with our computer software but this is a product of no two clubs using, or judges expecting, exactly the same system. Jeremy at the helm managed to think on his feet and quickly saved the situation and this was after having his excellent orang-utan image passed over. I might have already deserted my post for that!

Two of Chris Gilbert's were commended - Japanese Anemone and Heading for the Glacier . The highly commended images were Miranda Steward's graphic Caiman , John Jennings' Just Dance Rosemary Wenzerul's Just Hatched (snails) and Unidentified Flying Object (Meerkats) by Jeremy Frazer-Mitchell. Chris Gilbert's painterly Sailing into the Sunset was third. Second was Connie Fitzgerald's serene beach scene The Day and topping them all Rosemary Wenzerul's Lavender Field . This Stan had clearly connected with right away when he was quick to explain how much more difficult it was to produce an image like this, with its sensitive effect in the foreground, than it looked. He knew - he had tried!

Cleverly Stan's verbalisations of his observations, his comments and even his criticisms had left us seeing and enjoying all the images a bit more however they placed. I don't think you can expect any judge to do better than that. A master class.

Competition: The Mono Cups - Judge Les Spitz ARPS (Pinner CC). 18th May 2017

Every competition is special, but the entries for the mono cups always have a particular quality about them. Perhaps it is that, because we don't see in monochrome, every image is an art work, an interpretation of what you was rather than just a record of it. We presented Les Spitz (better known to Park Street Members as our regular AV judge) with 31 PDIs and 27 prints to consider, no small challenge!

In the PDIs, he held 7 images back, and of these, Terry was perhaps unlucky to get 18. Scoring 19 and Commended were two lovely studies, Fiona's Mono'clock and Connie's Mushrooms, while Roger Claxton's recollection of Snowshill Cottages scored 20 and was Highly Commended.

Fiona and Connie were back for the final three, with Connie 3rd with a beautiful Clematis, Fiona taking 2nd with her Sacre Coeur and Chris Gilbert winning the competition with his very fine land- sea- and sky-scape Heading For The Glacier.

In the print competition, Les held 5 back, and Rosemary's Winter in Lye Lane, Bricket Wood together with Anna's Resting Place form Dean were awarded 19 and Highly Commended. Derek Dixon's lovely infrared No School Today was 3rd and John Jennings took 2nd with Another Year. Connie topped the charts once again with Overhead Frenzy, a semi-abstract image of many seagulls in pursuit of a bag of chips, reminiscent of something by Alfred Hitchcock.

Talk: Infra-Red and Other Diversions by Colin Southgate FRPS. 11th May 2017

We never know quite what we are going to learn when Colin comes to our club. Ostensibly he came this week to show and explain his progress with 'Infra-Red' photography however it quickly became much more than that. Even though Colin himself may not have noticed, over the recent years he has developed his infra-red capture into an art form that is both creative and most importantly subtle. We often think of infra-red as those stark but impressive landscapes of white foliage and nearly black skies. Often a great way of livening up a scene. However although a few of those did figure the majority of his impressive collection of prints may not have immediately registered as infra-red at all had he not explained what he had done. The essence being infra-red not necessarily as monochrome but another form of colour.

By 'channel swopping' in photo-shop - a relatively straight forward exercise the details of which you can discover in many tutorials on your computer including his very own website - we are able to do more than just escape from the pinky colour cast in the original file and create, amongst other things, a steely blue sky and turn deciduous foliage to more of an autumnal gold. He explained that the more chlorophyll on the leaves then the larger the effect of the infra-red shot and that is why the inclusion of conifers can add a new dimension as they don't go white but rather just reduce to a flatter green tone as they have far less chlorophyll in their needles than say grass or maple leaves. Whilst on the subject of colours he also reminded us of the properties of the other end of the spectrum. Why do you see so much bright blue paint used on boats and sea side paraphernalia and even sailor's tunics? I had always assumed it was, well, nautical somehow. It is of course but for a reason. Blue paint, the colour of the shortest wave lengths, withstands bright sunlight better by absorbing all the other longer wave length colours which do the damage. In exactly the same way as a red painted car surface will do the opposite and fade much faster (particularly cellulose finishes) than a blue one.

He used his compendium of infra-red and associated techniques to transform what might have been almost ordinary compositions into magical scenes but still keeping them looking believable. This was definitely the trick. Not quite real but never surreal which is too often the case these days. Hence very easy to look at. Stand-out shots included a beached and decaying wooden hull taken on the river Severn near Gloucester where there are many such derelicts and an old rusting silo in a disused poultry farm looming behind a magnificent bronze coloured tree which seemed to stand out in 3D and the ubiquitous old couple sitting on the end of a seaside pier. All were pictures that one could look at and enjoy for a long time which is the real test. However one has to remember that there is more to these finished products than purely technical ability. Colin is a deceptively artistic fellow. Furthermore he practices a lot, often not far from where he lives. To use Jack Nicklaus's quote:- "The more I practice the luckier I get." That so called luck definitely standing him in good stead when he captured his Jack Vetriano letterbox style image of a group of people paddling on a sunlit beach. He couldn't have arranged the people better and the sky and the lighting...! One of the most striking images I have seen this year, possibly ever.

That wasn't all he had in store either. To break it up a bit he showed us some macro shots he had been experimenting with. A mysterious seascape that turned out to be a very close up of the pendant of a broach, but mostly colourful images of pressed flowers. His enthusiasm for yet another trick he had learned here was palpable. On a course he had taken recently held by John Humphrey an expert in the macro field, he had been shown a short cut to flower pressing which we all know takes months of patient waiting before you can take off the heavy books or undo the press. No fancy equipment or long waits are needed anymore. Two slabs of flat well planed wood a couple of layers of blotting paper or one of blotting paper and the other of mount board. Sandwich the blooms and bind together tight with big powerful rubber bands. So what's new - bands instead of books? Well, no, the next step is the clever bit. Microwave them! Set your microwave on about 60% power and a package like that will take 20 to 30 seconds! (While he was explaining this Chris Gilbert was taking notes!) The resulting photographs, which Colin explained were mainly of sections less than 2" square, were beautiful and just the few he showed us would have made a couple of excellent panels. This would be a very quick and easy thing for all of us to experiment with. I doubt if the life expectancy of the rubber bands would be very long but Colin was emphatic that nothing lingered to flavour the food cooked next time. I would still suggest that we guys try to avoid getting caught doing this as our ladies can sometimes be difficult to convince on these matters!

So all that and more was imparted in two hours and it has certainly inspired me to experiment with infra-red properly particularly on architectural shots of which Colin showed us quite a few. To cut out much of the fiddle of using red filters or post processing in photo-shop he recommended having a camera converted to take just infra-red as this gets you half way there and makes a better job of it. He reminded us that the one he used was a modest Nikon D70 only 8mp and quite old. I bet most of us have all got one of those or could pick one up very cheaply. I know I had and used the same firm as he did on his recommendation to have a Nikon D40 (my first ever digital camera) converted. If you are interested I can recommend the firm he used:-

Advanced Camera Services, 10 Linmore Court, Threxton Road industrial Estate, Watton, Norfolk IP25 6NG 01953 880086 ACS_2005@BTconnect.com

Members Evening: Model Shoot. 4th May 2017

Club night this week was with an invited model, not a gorgeous, young, scantily-clothed girl but a 63 year old male. Around a dozen members brought their cameras, and although the original plan was for everyone to take turns, the alternative approach of everyone shooting at the same time seemed to work reasonably well.

Hopefully some good images will have been captured and we are going to have a new page on the website for everyone to show their best/favourite few images from the night.

Club Nights

Many thanks to Rod Fricker for these photos of the session.

Open Prints Round 5 - Judge: Aussie Allan Thomson (ImageZ). 27th April 2017

There was a lot of free advice and information on offer last night, from a judge who is a real enthusiast for print working. The range of topics covered included paper selection to suit the image, how to mount gloss paper so it doesn't buckle, how to use a burnishing bone to clean up the cuts on mountboard, use of selective sharpening modes such as luminosity and darken, and of course the usual sorts of comments about cropping, composition, viewpoint and so on. It was a masterclass with the sole intention of enabling each of us to get at least one extra point for each image.

In addition of course he had to sort out and score 36 prints, with not a duff one in sight. Nevertheless, he scored down to 14, which gives a sensible spread of marks, and the fact that there were five 20s, seven 19s and eight 18s is a reflection of the close competition.

Terry had three lovely entries, all using his growing skill with the fractalis filter and the like, the pick of which was his floating Chinese Restaurant, which scored 20 and was highly commended. Derek Dixon's Amaryllis was highly praised for its gentle lighting, beautiful composition and 3-dimensional "feel", also scoring 20 and highly commended.

My own River Avon at Warwick was third, beaten by Paul Winslow's Shadows, a clever still life study of two table forks, with my Skippers just getting the nod as the winner.

The Late John Woodworth RIP

Sadly we received the news that John Woodworth died on Monday 24th April, having been very ill for some months.

Two years ago (May 2015) a number of PSCC members spent a few days in Yorkshire with John, photographing Swaledale under his expert guidance. John's friend Peter had a house near Richmond and together they hoped to build a business for which we were the guinea pigs, and I have no doubt that they would have succeeded brilliantly. John's attention to detail and the trouble he took was matched by his ability to find and capture memorable shots, and the warm and friendly welcome we received was equally memorable.

One year ago (May 2016), John gave a talk to the club on his trek to Everest Base Camp in 2014, and I quote from John Rolfe's review:

Life just below the death zone at 20,000 ft was always dangerous. Water taken into your tent at night soon froze solid and sleep was difficult. The path changed to a very coarse and rugged landscape. Ice falls, hallucination, terrifying rope bridges crossing ravines and the constant fear of avalanches with death never far away seemed to be the keynote.

No sooner had the outward journey been completed than John was faced with a five or six day walk back to the start. The one lighter relief was the happiness of the many children found along the way. John characteristically illustrated his walk with some superb landscape photography which he obligingly decided not to enter into our landscape competition.

A truly wonderful talk.

John was a tremendous asset to the club: he was a lovely man, great company, a superb photographer and worked hard for the club in a succession of roles, the latest being as Hon Secretary. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him, and we offer our deepest sympathy to his family.

External Competition: The Rosebowl Finals 23rd April 2017

It was very good that Park Street managed to qualify for the Rosebowl finals, which were held yesterday at Amersham.

It was just brilliant that we finished equal 2nd with Harrow and Leighton Buzzard, just 2 points behind Witney. Congratulations of course to the photographers, but selection is key to success in this sort of competition, so a big hand for Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell. Full results are here.

Individual scores were:

AuthorTitleScore
Connie Fitzgerald      To and Fro 20
Connie Fitzgerald I'm not joking19
Ron Brown       Golden Eagle 19
John Jennings Curls 19
Fiona Gurr Liberated18
Dean Tyler Lone Fisherman, Rhossili    18
John Woodworth Scottish Lake 18
John Jennings Remembrance17

 
Club Scores:

Club Score
Witney PG 150
Harrow CC 148
Leighton Buzzard PC 148
Park Street CC 148
Watford CC 147
Windsor PS 146
Oxford PS 145
Whitchurch Hill CC 145
Field End PS 144
Amersham PS 143
Buckingham CC 143
Hemel Hempstead PS    143

Competition: Landscape Cups - Judge Terry Coffey (Chalfont and Gerrards Cross CC). 6th March 2017

There was no doubt about the recurring theme in Terry Coffey's expert comments on our landscape images: the compositions were too often just not strong enough. I certainly felt that his comments on my own images were entirely valid: mistaking a nice view for a good landscape composition.

Terry's introductory comment was to the effect that while there were many images to enjoy, there were far fewer that delivered real visual satisfaction. Unfortunately, this satisfaction appears to be an elusive quality that is hard to define! He explained that images need to take you into the picture, not just leave you looking at it, and that layers within the image - foreground, middle ground and background for example - can benefit from something connecting them, such as a tree or a lighthouse. As ever, very few of us had the luxury of being able to choose to only take pictures in the right light for the subject.

There were still some memorable images, both in prints and projected classes. Dean Tyler claimed 2nd and 3rd in prints with "Rushing in, Bude" and "Morning Glory, Swanage", beaten by a hair's breadth by one of Derek Dixon's stunning infrared images, "Sheltering Under the Tree".

In the projected class, Dean was the bridesmaid again with "Catbells Caress", pipped by Connie Fitzgerald's evocative image "Coolroe, Ireland". In 3rd place was Fiona's "Cold and Frosty Morning" while David Butler's "Glacier National Park" and Connie's "Lower Yellowstone Falls" were Highly Commended.

For the rest of us, there is "scope to improve"!

Talk - Photographing Birds in Flight by Neil Schofield. 30th March 2017

For ten years, Neil used to go out several times a week to photograph birds with his friend, the late Santokh Sanotra who of course was a Park Street member, and Neil had come once or twice to club meetings as Santokh's guest. On Thursday he returned to give us a very full measure of information, guidance and examples of techniques for shooting birds in flight, and also, for good measure, a few birds on sticks and even dogs in flight.

Neil was very generous with sharing his experience, explaining exactly how he set the camera up, where to buy cheap camouflage netting, where to find and attract various birds and so on, and the evening was packed with several hundred examples of his work, any of which we would all have been proud of. Some of those images - the grebe swallowing a pike for example - will live long in the memory.

What was also interesting was the fact that he had brought a print of his photo of a pair of goldfinches scrapping which was almost identical to the one Santokh took and which had until very recently been on the wall of the Tennyson Room. Looking at the two together, and the very slight differences between them, it seemed a metaphor for the photographic friendship that the two of them had shared.

It was a fascinating, entertaining and very informative evening which, I am sure, will produce results in future club photography.

PDI Round 5: Judge - Mark Buckley-Sharp ARPS CPAGB APAGB (Harrow CC) 23rd March 2017

It's not easy. That first run through of the images may be great fun for us but the judge has to concentrate like mad. He has really got to decide the best and certainly the worst images at this early stage if everything isn't going to go lopsided later on. Even after the run through and when the first images comes back up it's still a bit of a shock. Often a judge will hold the first one back so that he can further get into his stride. It may well have been for this reason that first up, Chris Gilbert's beautiful and practically faultless Pink Campion, got slightly overlooked and scored down. It got 18 when it might so easily have been awarded two more if it had been later in the show. It was to be crucial later.

Mark, our judge for the night, has a very professional but easy-to-listen-to delivery in addition to his slightly novel take on photography. You can put just about anything in front of him and you can immediately see the cogs whirring as he gets himself into acceptance mode before he starts apportioning score and blame! Indeed this was very evident when he was considering a fine profile portrait of a grey squirrel by Connie. He was thinking aloud and explained that although he hated the things with a vengeance (most proper gardeners do) it was the picture he was there to judge and immediately emphasised the image's good points and there were plenty.

For the first part of the evening he may well have scored a little high when some less than sharp images came before him. He didn't get down to 14s till quite a bit into the proceedings. Playing from the base line as it were and standing behind the projector a judge can be quite a way from the screen especially in a long room and it is pretty well impossible to tell if small objects are sharp or when and where the sharpness falls off. He did come 'into the net' on one occasion to examine closely "Galway" a very sympathetic shot once again coincidently from Chris Gilbert which had a subtle artistic texture added only just perceptible even from the stalls. It is possible that this should be done by all of us judges more often.

As this was the last PDI of the year people were watching carefully the scores of those both just behind and just ahead of them in the league. This has been made easier by Jeremy having furnished us all with up to date positions for the whole club including when and where the scores were made: most useful and informative, makes it much more exciting. Indeed, Rosemary Wenzerul's tremendous performance this night with "Painted Lady Butterfly" an 18, "Intricate Beauty" scoring 19 and "Green Bottle Fly" a 20 launched her up the lists and into the top ten despite her completely missing the second contest! We might never have known that without Jeremy's list.

There were quite a few other 19s and they included "Daisy" by new member Gail Newman - on her first attempt at entering, Llanbedrog Museum from Sue Hipperson, an interesting "Moonlit Beach" from Dave with a slightly too large and well-defined super-moon and an interesting desert landscape "Gran Canaria" by Fiona with a clever focal point. As if to balance Chris Gilbert's bad luck earlier, Mark gave a mere 18 to Jeremy's sparky "Between the Hammer and the Anvil" citing some interesting compositional aspects that were not quite right, but even by his own admission, could not have been changed. This resulted in the two of them Chris & Jeremy tying for first place in the league a comfortable 8 points ahead of 3rd placer John Jennings. The two he had held back both were awarded 20s, Chris's "Galway" and Rosemary's "Green Bottle Fly" the latter taking the top position. Fiona's "Gran Canaria" was 3rd.

Like Andy Sands, Mark makes you smile when he talks about photographs and does often genuinely come up with some suggestions that have got past all of us such as how many lines can you draw through an image for instance? The three avenues of connection in a portrait! All the time resisting the temptation to draw his gun and shoot the grey squirrel! Great night because of great judging.

CACC Championship Day 19th March 2017

The following report is from Sue Anderson:

As most of you will know, the CACC Championships Day was held at Amersham yesterday, and those of us who attended enjoyed seeing hundreds (I think it was considerably over 800) images from clubs all over the Chilterns region. It's an interesting experience if you haven't been, the images are shown for just a few seconds each, and three judges award 5 points each, so totals are out of 15. They don't have time to make any comments as they go, it's a snap decision, so initial impact is everything.

They didn't seem very keen on abstract images generally, and landscapes didn't do too well either. Wildlife images did well, but then there were some amazing wildlife images there .

Amersham came 1st for Prints followed very closely by Harpenden, and in PDIs, Harpenden came 1st followed even more closely by Amersham. Park Street's Prints did better than our Projected images this year, we came joint 6th in the Print Section out of 18 clubs, and joint 15th out of 23 Clubs in projected. Chilterns Hundred results are also attached.

Not many 15s were handed out; only two were awarded to prints, and just five PDIs were awarded 15s, but although none of Park Street's images were amongst them, Peter Winter's print 'Village Weaver' (winner of Round 3 of the print league and a copy of which now hangs on the wall in the Centre) got a 14, and was one of a very select few that were singled out at the end for a few words of praise from the judges, including that this one was 'different', and 'very worthy' and the judges liked it's 'individuality'. Well done Peter.

I'd like to add my congratulations to Peter, scoring 14 doesn't sound much but there were only a handful of images, out of around 800, that scored higher, and very few of the 14s were singled out for comment.

I'd also like to add my thanks and congratulations to Sue Anderson and to Fiona Gurr for making a selection which did great credit to the club.

Chiltern 100 Scores  PDI Championship scores   Print Chamionship scores   Championship Club Summary

Competition: the Wildlife Cups. Judge: Andy Sands (XRR) 16th March 2017

You have to smile - even when he's giving you a 15! Andy Sands has the sort of enthusiasm both for photography and its subjects, that is highly infectious. His knowledge of the natural world has been for some time regarded as bordering on the uncanny but along side this his performance and delivery have improved steadily over the years to the extent that now an evening in his company is full on entertainment. That is not to say that content nor the critique is in anyway overlooked it is just that the atmosphere he creates renders the things he says so very easy to digest.

For this year's Wildlife competition we put before him nearly fifty projected images and thirty prints. Quite a number to get through. Our PDIs were fine but definitely outstripped in quality by the prints which were all excellent, some especially so. There were some slight idiosyncrasies in the scoring but these could be pretty much forgiven by Andy's tongue in cheek and smiling asides such as "I like woodpeckers - 19!" In the same way as having just endured a fairly fruitless day in a hide in someone's garden in High Wycombe unsuccessfully attempting to photograph Red Kites feeding off a rabbit carcass on the ground - red Kite images were going to get short shrift and there were quite a few good ones. Possibly the range of scores was a little modest too but he did get a chance to explain to me in the interval that he never liked to place any single image bottom so usually grouped the poorer ones together. I think he might have been trying to tell me politely that my Meerkats were lucky not to get a 13!

Three 20s took the top spots. Miranda Steward's "Toucan Having Fun", a very bold and simple close crop profile of the birds head and beak showing its bright colours was 3rd. Jeremy's "Cinnamon Bug" followed by the Latin name, and equally colourful was 2nd and a rather unusual and definitely rarely scene image "Just Hatched" of recently hatched snails just emerged from their sacks and moving along the striations of a large leaf, by Rosemary Wenzerul which won. This certainly illustrated where the two aspects of Wildlife photography, or any set subject for that matter, can conflict. On one hand say, the African sun setting on a pride of lions - wonderful pictorially but we would have seen such pictures many times before, versus in this case the unique moment of a snail hatching so rarely seen but not such a pleasing composition and hardly something one would hang on the wall. In the same way as one wouldn't hang "United in Slime" by Chris Gilbert! Where is the defining line between pictorial perfection and powerful documentary? Which is the most important?

It might have been expected and entirely reasonable that Andy would err towards the documentation side. In other words towards the subject matter and slightly away from the pictorial elements. Good to see new member Norman Marshall making his first three entries the best of which a butterfly image "Touch Down" scoring 17.

There could be few that would have disagreed with Andy's preferences in the Print section of the evening either. The list being topped by Jeremy's astonishing portrait, mostly hair, of his already famous Orang-utan. An image with both instant and long lived appeal. Possibly even cleverer than his universally popular "OOOOK" of a few weeks ago and now on the wall. Peter Winter's two entries made up the next places. "Little Owl" showing a stunning specimen with prey almost as if it had momentarily posed for the shot and in third a rather more traditional Kingfisher image "In Flight". Slightly overlooked, possibly because of Andy's momentary exasperation with Kites, was John Jennings' "In Flight Catering" which had both super sharpness and action as well as a perfectly soft background to add scale and interest. It only received 18.

Andy is listed as a speaker/lecturer and he has regularly visited us in that capacity. We are very lucky to have his services for our Wildlife competition as judge in the same way as his wife Sarah enlivens our Creative night. Little wonder we have a full house whenever either of them visit us.

Club A.V. Night 2nd March 2017

After previously running the Audio Visual night as a competition, this year it was thrown open to all and everyone just to have a go and see what they could do. This seemed to have the desired effect and bring forth some creative work. Terry Day showed us two sequences. One from the Winchester Christmas market and another, also of street scenes, but featuring his current favourite 'spooky' software to good effect. After a slight hiccup with Rod Fricker's pieces, necessitating him going home and re-loading them onto a stick, we were treated to Namibia where the landscapes were particular strong and also a tour of the little known painted churches in north east Romania with most appropriate music. There was also time for him to re-show his trip through the Panama Canal which with Maggie's commentary was most educational.

Martin Wise had produced a piece about Malta with a dramatic start both visually and musically depicting the harsh time the island had in World War II then going on to illustrate the more pleasant and sunny atmosphere pervading today. He also had located a couple of super-professional American pieces, one celebrating the early space missions and the other commemorating the Twin Towers disasters. Both quite short but most impressive and a standard to aim for.

John Jennings had collected numerous images taken at an early model shoot and featuring all the same lady. Astonishing variety bearing this in mind. Various wigs, different lighting styles and locations preserved interest as did his neat presentation with the images being shown with fine borders and drop shadows against a secondary background derived from the picture itself. Very comfortable viewing. Possibly the best of the night was the work of Sue Anderson with a detailed look at numerous features of Liverpool along with a well chosen sound track. Altogether some positive inspiration for further effort in this direction. Generally, although playing possibly a little loud the choices of music had been most imaginative. A night when you hear ''Also Spake Zarathustra' and 'Penny Lane' certainly has my vote!

The North West Fed Final, 25th February 2017

There were 9 prints and 9 projected images from each of the two clubs in the Final, Amersham and Hemel Hempstead. There were also 50+ images (starred or nominated) competing for Best Overall Projected Image and Best Overall Print from all the competing clubs this season.

There were two great judges to do all this: Tim Morland ARPS judging projected images, and John Credland ARPS, DPAGB, APAGB for prints. John Credland was especially entertaining, lots of fun and very witty, whilst at the same time taking the judging and the photography on offer very seriously.

It was a close run thing with Amersham beating Hemel Hempstead by just a few points.

All the photography was of a very high standard, the subject matter ranging from a piece of torn paper to an Osprey with a freshly caught fish in its talons, something noted by the judges when they were trying to choose the best overall images. John Jennings, Dean Tyler and I came away with much to inspire our own photography.

Our starred entries were
Glencoe by Sue Hipperson (pdi)
Standing Room Only by John Woodworth (pdi)
Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsula by Connie Fitzgerald (print)

The comments about each of them were very positive, but none of them was short-listed, unsurprisingly as they were up against the best of the best from all the local clubs.

The best overall projected image was Wizard's Magic by Richard Wilson (Watford) and the best print was Hydrangea Still Life by Ania Taylor (Ealing).

All results and winning images will be available on the NWF website shortly.

Open Prints Round 4 - Judge: Chris Drury. 23rd February 2017

Our 4th round in the annual Print League had, as usual, a very acceptable general standard and some quite terrific images. Our judge for the night was Chris Drury and in pleasant, clear and concise language, never cruel or dismissive he went about his business. His critiques were detailed and technical. Furthermore he left pauses for us all to think (don't you hate the judges that witter on incessantly because they think they have to? Well he didn't. )

Scoring, however, was tight (apart from the fifth image we saw which was David Butler's "Sliced", a section through a grapefruit which received a 14 he never went below 16) and he could have spaced them better.

We all appreciate what can be done in 'Photoshop' and it was interesting for him to explain some of his favourite software products like Landscape Pro and so forth. However such commentary and continued suggestions on the ways to improve images from the judge is dangerous territory. There are now as many ways to skin the proverbial photographic cat as there are stars in the sky, and tomorrow there will half a dozen more.

On the positive side, even though the final result could have gone any way, as the scores were so tight, no one could have begrudged Derek Dixon his first and second! His "Parasol Mushroom" and "Marford Farm" perfectly fitted Drury's taste and received 20s. A wide and crystal clear landscape of Madeira, shot as a multi image panorama by David Butler also scored 20 and was 3rd.

There were six images sharing fourth place and scoring 19. John Jennings had two, a dramatic portrait "The Lion", plus one of his clever multi-image studio shots "The Flower". Peter Winter's "Nuthatch" hanging off the trunk of a tree was perfectly framed. 'Break in the Cloud" a wintery scene of Southwold pier was actually shot on August Bank Holiday last year by Dean Tyler and there were two from Chris Gilbert, the very atmospheric "Cloth Fair" and a night shot of "Bournemouth Pier". There were also some very well thought out artistic creations further down the list that might have done better under a different judge: soft isn't always a mistake!

Photography News Camera Club Of The Year Competition - Round 2: Wildlife

Sad to report that we did not do so well in this round (27th out of 29!) This was from a score of 77 from our five images which averages out at only 15.4 per image. Now we should appreciate that the scoring is very tough - only one twenty from the entire 145 images. This was a spectacular crocodile head close-up. An eye really, reflected in the water. Unusual and technically pretty well perfect.

However our images stood up well when compared with the others - no disgraces at all. Connie's Blue Tit flying and Sue's mass of ladybirds deserved much more than the 14s they received in the company in which they were being judged. I feel that there was more than a little subjective preference at work here as quite a number that I would not have thought very good at all received scores higher than ours. I mean there was at least one shot of mushrooms, hardly wild life and a blue whale which was just ordinary! One wonders how many it might have got in an open contest if it had been say a submarine? (They are all available with scores on www.absolutephoto.com and go to 'Members' Area/Camera Club of The Year' round 2. See what you think.) In their defence however the judges did recognise what we all saw in Jeremy's Orang-utang as they gave it a 19 of which there were comparatively few.

You know what they say - it's the taking part that's important! Next round is entitled 'The Street' and I would appreciate some images before 9pm Sunday 5th March. They do not have to be full size but slightly bigger than our standard competition size. In other words the longest dimension whether horizontal or vertical must be at least 1500 not our 1400.

St Albans 9 - Way Battle. Judge: Allan (Aussie) Thomson (IMAGEZ), 14th February 2017

Last night I took eight of our top scoring prints along to St Albans for the annual 8 - Way Battle, although this year 9 clubs took part so it became a 9 - way battle.

The clubs who took part were: Croxley, Hertford, New City, Park Street, Watford, Wycombe, XRR, Leighton Buzzard and of course St Albans. It was a full evening with 72 prints to see.

The Judge was Allan (Aussie) Thomson. His judging was in-depth and constructive, he considered every aspect from the standard of the print to the cut and quality of the mount and whether it had a backing board, the paper that was used, the crop and composition, the subject of course, attention to detail and what post processing had been used. He said the prints were of an excellent standard and he that he had not seen so many wonderful prints on one night before.

His scoring produced a close-run "battle" resulting in a tie for first place between Watford and Wycombe, both finishing with 151 points. Both clubs scored three 20's. These six prints were then presented to Allan, who had to pick his favourite panel. He said it was a difficult decision to make, but picked Wycombe to win by a very small margin. (There was only one cake, so the judge had to decide on the winning club!)

Park Street finished THIRD! A very good result as the competition was fierce with many, many excellent prints.

Here is what Allan had to say about our prints:

Rope Factory, Chatham Dockyard by Terry Day  
The segmented skill is quite good, it is good how the bits tie together. The saturation and HDR works. The centre piece doesn't tie the three parts of the image in. He said it is too busy. Blending and technically very good, but overall the judge felt it doesn't tie in. 16
Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsula by Connie Fitzgerald  
He felt he recognized the authors work and felt she was a female. The composition is very nice, on the third with the little tiny people giving it scale. He liked the graduation of the colours. He said it was very commercial, and you could run a limited edition. 20
Grass Flower by Chris Gilbert  
Nice editing / post processing. He liked the fogginess on the sides, would like some graduation. The softness works dramatically well. Very specific art, digital art, the author has artistic flare. Nice proportion and light. Very nice and again commercial, he could see the image on someone's wall. 19
Ouch by Ron Brown  
He said this is done to death but works in spades with this composition. He suggested to add another 20 to 30 pixels on the right-hand side. Really nice background. Lighting very good. Little bit flat at the top of the print. He said it was very, very good but not great. 19
The Old Master by Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell  
The judge wasn't sure about the treatment, he didn't think it had totally worked. The crackled look seems a bit flat and it hadn't quite worked considering it is a reflection. 15
Dying Swan by John Jennings  
Dark backgrounds are coming back into fashion. Beautiful hand positioning, catchlight beautiful. The detail and the light are absolutely beautiful. Nicely positioned in the frame. He said he was looking for things to take a point off..... 20
Durldle Dor by Dean Tyler  
A popular spot, said there has been some erosion there recently. Beautifully done and controlled shutter speed. Lovely milky view. Beautiful detail, he liked the colour. He said it could be improved by a lower set so the horizon was in a different place. He said it was so close to a 20. 19
Juvenile Male Kingfisher by Peter Winter  
Beautiful technical specimen. Not over saturated, sharpness was there catching the light. He said he might lift a bit if it wasn't a wildlife. He said he would tidy the image as he didn't like the diagonal 'line' on the bottom right, he said it detracts. 18

Final Results:

ClubScore    Place
Wycombe1511st
Watford1512nd
Park Street1463rd
Hertford1424th
XRR1405th
New City1386th
Croxley137=7th
St Albans137=7th
Leighton Buzzard     137=7th

Fun Competition: Documentaries. Judge: Dave Hipperson 9th February 2017

Park Street Camera Club's "Fun Competition" is becoming an annual treat. This year, Dave Hipperson came up with the idea of a "Documentary" competition. He gave us two subjects - we could choose either or indeed both - and asked for 3 to 5 images to illustrate the chosen subject, "Fake" or "Too Many". A short script could be provided to accompany the images if desired. As was the intention, this brought out both creativity and humour from the 11 members who gave it a go, and with the aid of Dave's excellent and entertaining judging, made for a brilliant evening.

In the first group, Fake, we started with Barbara's story about how Arthur had bought a Rolex for £25 and the shopkeeper had left her in charge of the shop while he took Arthur to his brother's carpet shop to have a link removed from the strap. David's public safety documentary on the dangers in Yellowstone was very well done, with the Photoshop far from obvious, and Chris Anderson added to the fun by labelling his flower images fake or genuine - but the wrong way round, demonstrating how realistic the artificial flowers were. The photos were excellent too, and Dave particularly admired the way Chris had kept the detail in the dark velvet wrapped round the base of the flowers.

Chris Gilbert's sequence of the cow jumping over the moon was nicely developed, and Paul's Ghost story was very cleverly done. Jeremy's documentary about the filming of some EastEnders sequences at BRE was a very effective documentary, meticulously produced and with a well constructed still life at the end. His score of 19 put him in the runner-up spot.

The joint winners, however, were Rosemary, with her cat's family history and Terry with his art forgeries. Both of these were very clever ideas beautifully realised and fully deserved to win.

FF1 ZARRI'S ANCESTORS by Rosemary Wenzerul FF2 ZARRI'S ANCESTORS by Rosemary Wenzerul

In the second group, Too Many, Rod started the session with some hair-raising photos of the traffic in Saigon. Dave felt that the first image was the strongest in the documentary sense and really conveyed the feeling of being there, but he really liked his last image which had the potential to be a very good portrait. More traffic followed, this time from John about traffic in Garston around the two schools: Dave liked the idea but advised John to stand in the middle of the road to get stronger pictures! He also felt that Barbara's "Too Far to Walk" needed an image of a walker.

Chris Gilbert provided a great sequence showing Wembley stadium filling with supporters and changing the predominant colour from the red of the seats to the blue of the supporter's shirts and flags. Dave's reservation was whether it really addressed the subject of Too Many. Terry's proverbs were also much appreciated. Jeremy was once again the runner-up with a very good set, with a particularly enjoyable self portrait of himself facing a large bowl of Brussels sprouts. Undoubted winner though was Sue Anderson's moving set on the theme of remembrance, a fantastic theme, beautifully done and conveying a simple, strong message.

Many thanks to Jeremy for making the evening work so seamlessly, and to Dave for the idea, the execution and the entertainment.

PDI Round 4: Judge - Barbara Lyddiatt (Chalfont and Gerrards Cross CC). 2nd February 2017

One of the attractions of a PDI competition is the suprise element when the pictures appear in the run through - especially sensational ones. Just occasionally the standout image of the evening emerges instantly at this stage. Last Thursday, the fourth PDI round of the year, was just such an occasion. Furthermore there was a palpable and positive reaction throughout the audience when it came up. Then again a very positive reaction from the judge when she examined it later. The photograph in question was of course Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell's 'OOOK!' a tightly cropped portrait of an orang-utan. It went on to win the evening. It felt like everyone liked it - you can't do better than that.

Barbara Lyddiatt has been to our club many times. She has indeed been judging competitions now for a good while. She has a voice that is both easy to hear and pleasant to listen too. (You know how some judges begin to sound a bit irritating by the end of the night - she doesn't). Furthermore one of her observations on this night was particularly insightful. She was able to verbalise what it might be that we all see in a picture that appeals to us. That intangible special quality. It would appear that her rule of thumb is how much, or for how long, one can, or does, want to view the image. Does it capture you enough to never put it down as it were? Like a good book. Others, possibly just as technically perfect, might not do this. It's a point worth remembering when thinking of showing an image and it's probably why pictures with a bit of a mystery or a story are often popular and score well.

There were other images on this night to give Jeremy a run for his money of course and four of them scored 20's but a very distinctive shot from Roger Claxton 'St Barnabus Church' didn't get missed either. His very well composed and sympathetically treated image really stood out and received a 19 as did Connie's 'Seabird.' It could be said that Fiona's wonderful 'Amelia' was actually unlucky to only get 19 ! Rosemary's 'Sun Worshipping' single bloom got 20, Chris Gilbert had added a sophisticated artistic touch to his 'Sail into the Sunset' composite to also score 20 along with two of John Jennings's, one a very natural portrait, 'Diane' and the other a dance studio long exposure 'Just Dance.' Not much dispute over the top images although some of the lower scores were a little less obvious even though her range down to 12 was appropriate in the circumstances.

Using a slightly novel judging system, Barbara critiqued them all in the first half then ran through them again in the second half and apportioned the scores. Quite a tidy process and of course it allowed her two looks (three if you count the run through) before actually giving a mark. The time saved allowed club members to ask about and comment on, some of the winning images at the end. A rather satisfying way to wrap up and disseminate information that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Jeremy's interesting 'Christ Meets Cristo' for instance. What looked like silk drapes over statues being polythene covers over a cathedral organ inspiring the idea for the Cristo part of the title. Cristo, Jeremy explained, being the conceptual artist who has been gaining notoriety by wrapping large things in polythene such as the White Cliffs of Dover a few years ago.

...and the orang-utan. Could I live with it on my wall? Yes I could, she was dead right. Wonderful.

Competition: Creative Cups - Judge Sarah Sands. 28th January 2017

Our Chairman put it perfectly in his summing up of the evening. "Not only does she see so much in our images, she very often sees more than we do". That's one of the most complimentary responses there can be to a judging performance and it was perfectly accurate. He was thanking Sarah Sands for her work selecting the winners at our annual Creative competition.

The idea of a creative night was floated four or five years ago in an attempt to get member to loosen up a bit and try something different. Well, that was what I was told when you asked me to judge your first one. I enjoyed it so much I joined the club! Since then we have been able to tempt Sarah to judge it for us and she always does a popular and often sparkling job. This was blindingly obvious from the almost complete club turn out (35 people) that came despite the very cold winter's night.

More entries than ever this year (33 projected and 18 prints) and there wasn't a duff one amongst them. Indeed it might have been that very fact that encouraged Sarah to score them all a bit high although holding so many back, particularly in the PDI section was very sensible in the circumstances as there were genuinely a lot of the top end standard. This effectively gave a second round which worked particularly well in the Print category as Jeremy put them up as they were held back and removed the others creating increased drama.

Once again encouraging those that do little or no post production work in Photoshop, Paul Winslow, who does everything in the camera by choice, was third in the PDIs with a very thought provoking double exposure. Connie, continuing what is so often a coastal theme in her images, went the whole hog and photographed both ends of a fish! Clever thing was how she had arranged the images in the frame and one had to hand it to her for the original thought in the first place. She went out, bought a fish, laid it on a light box and took pictures of it. Should she be getting out more, do you think? Hers was second. John Jennings continued his recent form (improved if anything since taking over the Chairmanship) impressing with beautiful patterns from a long exposure of a moving light stick in a darkroom. Such shots are great fun to do and relatively easy but very difficult to make look artistic. John got it perfectly and won. He nearly did it again in the print section too with a multiple exposed dancer against a dark background. However David Butler took third in this with a clever creation that saw the author himself sitting in different positions all around an auditorium. Intriguing and technically well executed. Sarah went around the individual expressions and was rightly captivated by the atmosphere it all created. David even dressed in the same clothes on this evening as he had been wearing for the shoot but I don't think Sarah spotted that.

It took her some time to decide between the top two eventually giving second to Jeremy's picture of an Arabian sunset complete with minaret and huge moon after having told us an interesting story of her recent experience in that Country. Connie's frenzy of birds won. Possibly they had see the earlier fish?

The overall feeling of the night was that we were being judged by someone enthused by the possibilities of creating the unusual in a photograph. All of them fitted the bill and Sarah was at pains to say so. However the ones she chose seemed to be those that had been the product of some additional clever and original thought.

I have to admit to being a bit of a fan of Sarah Sands. She was one of the first judges I ever heard quite a few years ago when I was a member of Harrow. It was mostly she that inspired me to try judging myself, not because I thought I could do better or even as well, but because in that first ninety minutes she showed me all the things to look for, most of which I had never seen before. It was a real epiphany. It is a delightful coincidence that now she judges the one and only event that I too have judged at Park Street. I believe that it would help all photographers to have their work critiqued by her at least once a year. Furthermore I believe even more strongly that all our judges should also have their worked critiqued by her. Her acute observational skills and grasp of colour and composition and how the two co-exist is sensational as well as her kindness and bubbly enthusiasm - all the while being self deprecating. A unique package. We will look forward to her return.

Photography News Camera Club of the Year: Round 1

Our entry came 10th from an entry list of 32 clubs. The winning club being New City and the only CACC club to place above us. You will remember that we tied with them in the last round of the Rose Bowl a few weeks ago. Furthermore one of their top images which scored 19 was from Colin Mill who had already won the XRR Visions events and was the guy who visited us on that night of the Rose Bowl.

Park Street's entries

 

When I called for images (Portraits) I was hardly over whelmed. We have to submit five images per round each from a different author. Only five of you responded! John Jennings 'Curls' from a very wide assortment of shots got 17.

Connie Fitzgeralds 'Comedian' the single image she sent me got 17. Fiona Gurr's 'Amelia' from a choice of two got 18 (very good). Chris Gilbert sent me six and my selection of 'Aneeta' only got 16 but it did look the strongest one of his although not actually my favourite. Finally David Butler sent me just one 'Engine Driver.' It was fine and flew the flag but it was the least strong of ours and only got 16. The tragedy was that I realised I had my 'Thinking Girl's Hamburger' which had done very well some years ago. I tried to upload it but for some reason it wouldn't, so David's it had to be. We could so easily have had a couple more points. Remember we only needed one point per image more and we would have won.

However from what you sent me this is a excellent result and well worth the effort bearing in mind some of these clubs come from the much more competitive environs of the North of England.

To view the entire entry and all their scores (and I couldn't find a 20 scored amongst them) go to absolutephoto.com and then click on members area and then scroll down to Camera Club of the Year and then click on Click here to see Gallery.

Next month's topic is WILDLIFE. Now this is a better subject for us but it's also a more popular subject for all clubs so the standard will be higher still. Please send me all the best stuff you have it doesn't matter if it has been seen before - as long as not in the particular comp. Remember to send images with the largest dimension at least 1500 or full size, just not small. I will do the selecting and reducing if they are large. I need then by 4th February latest. Send me lots and give me a selection challenge.

External Speaker: Stafford Steed LRPS CPAGB - North America's Southern States. 19th January 2017

A good speaker delivers a combination of entertainment and education, and Stafford Steed certainly ticked both those boxes. He took us on a trip from Georgia to Texas via Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, illustrating his journey with photographs (of course), with music from the various areas (including Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Elvis, Louis Armstrong and more) and with history and stories about all sorts of things including the civil war, slavery, civil rights, Mississippi paddle steamers, the music business and hurricane Katrina.

Stafford was awarded both his distinctions in the 1990s for Audio-Visual works, probably the rarest discipline then as well as now, and his assured manner was no doubt helped by his highly organised set-up. Yes, these were "holiday photos" but they were supported by so much more, and reflected his keen interest in everything around him.

One hears so many snippets of information about so many things, one of the great strengths of Stafford's talk was to connect and complete countless stories about this colourful and eventful part of the world. An evening enjoyed and appreciated by us all!

Open Prints Round 3 - Judge: Julia Cleaver. 15th January 2017

This could so easily not have happened. The forecast snow actually arrived at lunch time and had it continued then doubtless few would have risked attending. Thankfully it stopped late afternoon and all the entries arrived in time as well as a reasonable number of members plus the judge Julia Cleaver (APAGB) from ImageZ who had never visited before. She has only been on the judging circuit for a few years but has become very popular. Her performance was quite a bit different from what we may have become used to. This is the refreshing side of trying a new judge. Being a teacher by profession she is a polished performer in front of a crowd (class?). I wouldn't mind betting that next time she is due to judge for us more members pay even closer attention to what she says as it came as a bit of a surprise to be asked questions a couple of times during the evening. Can you remember those five main qualities that she looks for in an image? If you can't then be sure you know them the next time she visits as doubtless she will ask again.

From our side we did well offering her a beautiful and varied display of prints. Although not many suprises as far as subject matter, indeed a couple we had seen a few times before in similar if not identical guise, the standard of printing and mounting alone was consistently high. She was genuinely impressed.

Having done a bit of this judging stuff myself I have to admit that I often find it hard not to cry out in disbelief (even pain) at some of the scores and almost always the range of scores that some judges give both at Park Street and elsewhere. Examining closely the results from this particular evening I don't think I can remember a night when I agreed so closely with the judge both in order and score. Apart that is from one very strange anomaly. On examination of the entire entry there were obviously a collection of images that stood out. Peter Winters 'Village Weaver' was quite wonderful and deserved to win - her comments about the light particularly on the nest were perfect. Sadly not everyone can be top but at least Connie's beautiful 'Dingle Peninsular' was also worth a 20. The tiny detail of the two figures not escaping the judges notice and certainly making the picture perfect although I might have suggested Harrods rather than IKEA as a possible sales option. Dean Tyler's 'Contemplation - Durdle Door' we have seen before but he has a way of enlivening the image each time he shows it. This version, another 20 was 3rd and the best I have seen it. Once again being made by the tiny figure on the beach.

Jeremy's 'Freezing Fog' and David Butler's 'Waiting for Steam' also received 20s despite her mentioning some aspects of imperfection and not noticing the crucial element of fire in the latter lifting the image from pure monochrome status. The 19s were another from Dean 'Dunwich Heath' - beautifully captured coloured heather and a very subtle studio shot from the master of the genre John Jennings entitled 'La Vie en Rose'. Finally another from Peter Winter of two immaculate Woodpeckers. Of this image she asked us what could have spoiled it. Paul Winslow answered instantly - 'a cat!' Perfect but I don't think it was what she was expecting. That'll teach her for asking us questions!

No. She was great, however now to the anomaly. There was another outstanding image both technically and artistically. It was indeed like some others a shot of something we may have seen before however never so perfectly captured. Dean Tyler's 'Twice as Nice - Buttermere' was a standout image and tragically received only 17. Maybe the title's reference to the reflection was possibly unnecessary, maybe the cliché of the composition. Who knows. It may not have been the winning image but it was worth 20 in that company. Dean is now three points behind where he should be - a pity.

External Competition: Rose Bowl Round Two. Judge - Colin Southgate. 5th January 2017

OK, so we all have different opinions of what's good and what's a not so good image and how they should score. The judge of course always gets it wrong even if only slightly. So Colin Southgate was entering interesting territory when he came to judge our second round Rose Bowl event. We had seen some of our images get very high marks recently at previous events. This time they didn't. Jeremy's stunning 'Skogarfoss' lacked sufficient elements to captivate this judge - Peter Prosser had loved it the week before and so had the judge at Visions. Connie's wonderful 'To & Fro' only got 17: ouch! However, throughout the session Colin seemed to be very able to somehow explain why he was giving the score without waffling on needlessly, which made everything much more palatable.

A slight projector glitch noticed on the first run through meant Colin was able to have a second run through - such a luxury - but there being only 45 images time was not at a premium. His observations and comments were then of his usually high standard despite him admitting to not being in the best of health.

We were up against the consistently excellent New City and Field End clubs. The sensible money would have been with New City. It didn't happen. Field End had a very high general standard but I believe they were very lucky to get a 20 with 'Watching You' which was a rather confused image in the 'Punk and Wall' genre. Too much other person's art really, but it appealed to Colin. New City on the other hand got unlucky with their similarly themed but more attractive 'Urban Cyclist' receiving 16 and then their disastrous 15 for 'Callanish' with sunk their boat.

It was interesting to have as the representative from New City the very talented Colin Mill, who had virtually single-handedly been responsible for his club's recent victory at XRR Visions. Indeed one of his successful images there re-appeared against us; his 'Crested Gecko on Curved Stick' and Colin liked it too, but even its 19 score was insufficient to come back against Field End. Thanks to Dean Tyler's 20 for his 'Lone Fisherman' and Connie's very strong 'I'm Not Joking' portrait we tied with New City at a creditable 262 from a possible 300 - both of us beaten by Field End's 265. A close result despite Colin spreading the scores quite properly down to 15. It could have gone any way.

One thing that is worth remembering when we have these inter-club do's - either NWF or Rose Bowl - is that there might, hopefully, be representatives from the other clubs, so do keep a look out for unfamiliar faces and try to make them feel welcome, particularly if they are few in number as on this occasion. You never know when these people might be thinking of joining another club!

Club Scores

ClubScorePlace
Field End Photographic Society      2651st
Park Street Camera Club2622nd=
New City Photographic Society2622nd=

Individual PSCC Member Scores

TitleAuthorScore
CurlsJohn Jennings18
St Pauls ImpressionChris Gilbert16
Vancouver Harbour Master       David Butler17
LiberatedFiona Gurr19
Lone FishermanDean Tyler20 *
The Millenium BridgeTerry Day16
Delicate RoseChris Gilbert17
Scottish LakeJohn Woodworth17
SkogarfossJeremy Fraser-Mitchell       16
To And FroConnie Fitzgerald17
RemembranceJohn Jennings18
Durdle DoorDean Tyler17
Just Chillin'John Jennings18
Hobby In HeatherRon Brown17
I'm Not Joking Connie Fitzgerald19

Park Street Christmas Party Evening 15th December 2016

Two hours of fun, good conversation and excellent food. A great success. Ken Liversidge introduced us to another of his hobbies - the Sunshine Ukulele Band. Twelve of them no less, including Ken and they entertained us grandly with two sets. Between these we all (band included) tucked into a great variety of food supplied by the members that attended.

As a slight departure the buffet was arranged in the 'other room' and this gave everyone much more space to mingle. Great thanks must go to Maggie and Rod who did so much of the preparation work. However, and it's a big however, less than half the club turned up - actually only 19 and there were a dozen in the band (thank goodness.)

This is really disappointing bearing in mind that the date had been set months in advance and the usual people had made that extra effort to set it all up for the rest of us most professionally.

I think I will make a suggestion at the next committee meeting that in future, to encourage attendance and so we can plan on the numbers better, every member that attends the Christmas social will receive a Christmas present in the form of 5 points on their current year's score for both PDI and Print Leagues. OK Maggie - now you can plan on about 42 place settings for the party in 2017. Job done!

PDI Round 3: Judge - Peter Prosser APAGB (Harrow CC). 8th December 2016

Round 3 was ably judged by Peter Prosser, another judge who makes the most of every image without shirking the tough decision to score over a wide range. He held back ten images from the 47 entered, of which three were scored at 18, and two at 20 with the rest collecting 19.

Peter had no hesitation in picking Skogarfoss by Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell as his winner (despite his uncertainty about whether the solitary bird had been added later or not), which made Chris Gilbert the runner up with The Wheelchair Race, which had a particularly interesting painterly treatment. He chose Terry Day's Running Towards St Pauls as his 3rd placed image, enjoying the juxtaposition of the old and new.

That left four images as Highly Commended, two of them being by Sue Anderson, who is in a rich vein of form, another by Jeremy, and the fourth by Fiona Gurr.

External Competition: North West Fed. Round 3 at Wycombe - Judge: Amanda Wright. 6th December 2016

A much better result in Round 3, Park Street came second and pushed Wycombe pretty hard, with Harrow eating our dust. We also got two 20s (for Connie's Inch Beach and John Woodworth's Standing Room Only, which was a starred image) and some very positive comments from the judge.

No semi-final for us, but we have two projected images starred, Standing Room Only and Glencoe as well as the print Inch BeachDingle Peninsular, so they will go to the Final.

Well done and thank you to all the authors, and to Connie and Fiona who did a great job selecting the images and representing PSCC at the away matches.

Park Street Individual Scores

TitleAuthorPrint/PDI   Score
CurlsJohn JenningsPrint18
Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsular       Connie FitzgeraldPrint20
Juvenile Male KingfisherPeter WinterPrint19
Lello Bookshop, PortoChris GilbertPrint18
Weeping BeautyDean TylerPrint17
Grotesque FruitConnie Fitzgerald       PDI18
LiberatedFiona GurrPDI17
Standing Room OnlyJohn WoodworthPDI20*
Through the MistChris GilbertPDI19
Bat Out of HellJohn JenningsPDI19

Club Totals

ClubPrints      PDIs      Total      Place
Wycombe PS94931871st
Park Street CC       92931852nd
Harrow CC87921793rd

External Competition: North West Fed. Round 2 at Wycombe - Judge: Mary Ward LRPS . 1st December 2016

Here are the scores from the NW Fed Round 2 at Wycombe. We did manage a 20 this time, and Sue Hipperson's lovely Glencoe was one of the starred images, and the scores were much closer than in the first round at Park Street, but the order was the same.

We had a very tough draw to be up against two such good clubs, but we have had consistently positive comments.

Park Street Individual Scores

TitleAuthorPrint/PDI      Score
GlencoeSue HippersonPDI20
Mind ClosedJohn JenningsPDI18
Sepia CelluloidFiona GurrPDI17
Young Starling in FlightConnie FitzgeraldPDI18
Solo for JackJohn JenningsPDI17
Dying SwanJohn JenningsPrint18
Heavy Cloud at Beachy Head       Connie Fitzgerald      Print19
Hobby in HeatherRon BrownPrint19
Rope FactoryTerry DayPrint19
TamarilloConnie Fitzgerald   Print17

Club Totals

ClubPrints      PDIs      Total      Place
Harrow CC95951901st
Wycombe PS93921852nd
Park Street CC       92901823rd

External Competition: North West Fed. Round 1 - Judge: Les Spitz ARPS (Pinner CC). 24th November 2016

On Thursday 24th we hosted a first round of the North West Fed. with clubs Harrow and High Wycombe against us. So many people came we almost ran out of chairs! It was also pleasing to see that many of the visitors were enjoying our gallery around the room. Definitely making it worth all the effort that Connie puts in on this and adding enormously to the ambiance. Thankfully we also had Les Spitz selected to judge. Like Park Street, High Wycombe has strength in depth. Lots of good photographers, a few exceptionally so. Harrow on the other hand always seem to rely on fewer although some of them are very good indeed. Les managed the projected images very well although I think he did even better with the prints. The judge always has much more time to absorb the prints and can look back at the others to re-establish his mental order. He did miss the significance of Terry Day's Silos composite however which was a rare oversight.

The North West Fed. system, perfected over the years, creates a series of very good evenings partly because it doesn't flood the judge with images and also because it includes both prints and PDI's. Fiddly for the hosts but much more interesting for the audience. Therefore Les was able to tell us quite a bit about each image and he certainly sounded like he was enjoying himself.

Harrow went into the lead almost immediately and steadily increased the gap between themselves and Wycombe as the evening went on. The knock-out punch being delivered by Avril Candler's Nodding Off elephant shot towards the end. A straightforward image taken at Whipsnade Zoo with the minimum of photo-shop trickery but which had captured a moment sympathetically and hence received a 20. Further encouragement that there is still room for successful picture taking (in the home counties as well as during continental travel) and without increasingly clever computer manipulation. A few other 20s were sprinkled around but sadly none of them came Park Street's way. We were well beaten on this night.

Park Street Individual Scores

TitleAuthorPrint/PDI       Score
Curved in IsolationChris GilbertPrint16
Durdle DorDean TylerPrint19
Golden EagleRon BrownPrint17
See ThroughConnie FitzgeraldPrint18
Surf TrailsDean TylerPrint16
The SiloTerry DayPrint17
MarblesChris GilbertPDI18
The Old MasterJeremy Fraser-Mitchell      PDI16
Japanese Anemone       Chris GilbertPDI18
At EaseJohn WoodworthPDI17
Rainbow CollectionFiona GurrPDI16
The EdgeConnie Fitzgerald    PDI18

Club Totals

ClubPrints      PDIs      Total      Place
Harrow CC1121082201st
Wycombe PS1071092162nd
Park Street CC       1031032063rd

Local Competition: XRR Visions. Judge - Dr John Law FRPS MFIAP. 23rd Oct 2016

XRR Visions is a competition open to anyone but it also comes with an additional inter-club element to it. Clubs may nominate 3 members who have already entered independently, and their scores are combined to arrive at the "club score". On this occasion the club nominated Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell, Sue Hipperson and John Jennings. Other members entered were Terry Day, Connie Fitzgerald and Dave Hipperson.

Dr Law, who is from Cambridgeshire, gave a broad spread of marks, from 11 to 20, which was not always comfortable, particularly as, although always entertaining, he gave little or no explanation of what he appreciated or thought could have been better done. Jeremy was awarded a well-deserved 20 with Skogarfoss, a lovely image of a waterfall with a bird flying past yet The Genie Should Appear Now, an image that won our own People cup last year, didn't meet with approval, scoring 12.

Competing as an individual, Connie was the highest scoring club member with 51, helped by scoring 19 for On The Edge, a vertigo-inducing image of Beachy Head. The nominated members scored 48,47 and 47 for a team total of 142, putting us 6th of 12 clubs. At the top, Harrow and New City were level on 159. Everyone's third image was the one they nominated as a tie breaker, but here too the clubs were level. The judge was therefore called upon to make a decision, which went in favour of New City, perhaps fittingly as Harrow had won the two previous years. The best individual photographer was Colin Mill one of the New City team, with an excellent aggregate score of 57.

It is a good evening's entertainment, with over 60 photographers entering what amounts to their best three images of the year. The first 2 images are scored in advance and the evening starts with a slideshow of those images with authors' names and the scores before the 3rd images are judged live.

The People Cups: Judge - PSCC Members. 17th November 2016

We use self-judging occasionally, originally because of a shortage of judges. I am told they are often quite difficult to tempt out on a Thursday night (me, I'll go anywhere!) Additionally, it gives all the members a chance to try their hands at judging and hence hone their critiquing skills. The scoring spread of one to five is adjusted with some sophisticated computer wizardry (in this case dreamt up by Rod Fricker) to create a conventional final range and full result.

This occasion was by far the most successful night to this formula for some time. In the past it has been nigh on impossible to produce full results on the night. This time we did it. Or rather Jeremy did it for us. However before we go any further it should be pointed out that Jeremy did this using the system that Rod had designed, despite having himself proposed an alternative that he thought was better. Therefore it is doubly impressive that Jeremy should be able to put that behind him and give us his best performance with Rod's software. Great clubs don't just happen - they are made by people working together like this. Where was I?

Loads of images, both projected and printed, so plenty for everyone to do. Large amounts of determined and quiet concentration to a backdrop of paper rustling. PDI's for the first half and from nowhere came the Andersons! Sue producing three portraits of a very high quality and all scoring 20. Chris - not to be outdone - also got a 20 with his single entry of Carnival Girl. A clean sweep. Looking at the printed results one could be forgiven for thinking that somewhere in this digital trickery an alphabetical order issue may have been quietly inserted. With that in mind, at the next one of these I think I may alter my surname slightly to see if that is the case!

Roger Claxton showed us a very attractive moment in the 'butterfly on child's nose genre' as well as a cleverly captured scene between a 'Tranquil Couple' both receiving 19. Likewise Paul Winslow's excellent double image self portrait 'Twins at War' also received 19 along with two of Chris Gilberts entries 'Commuting with Parrot' and 'Admiring Ché'.

Before the start of the print section and to give Jeremy a bit more time to collate the results from the PDIs, John Jennings rather reluctantly admitted that he had recently won an LRPS distinction. Without doubt there was more than routine appreciation of this achievement bearing in mind he had recently taken over the clubs most difficult office and was doing it so well. He showed us the panel he had submitted - very educational and inspiring. It followed on perfectly from the recent talk from Mark Buckley-Sharp on the subject of RPS distinctions.

The Print section of the evening was somewhat smaller (17 images) and of course the club members had had all evening to assimilate the material. This time the gentlemen were dominant. Chris Gilbert's 'I Spy' and Paul Winslow's 'Read all About It' being Highly Commended with scores of 19. Scoring 20, Chris again was 3rd with 'Sweet Smile' and Paul's excellent street shot 'Communication' was topped by David Butler's 'Engine Driver' - both monochrome interestingly.

The final results scored down to 15 and it would be hard to argue with the order. Once again proving that the only thing more reliable than a judge is thirty six judges. Always Ask The Audience .

Prints Round 2: Judge - Colin Southgate FRPS DPAGB (Harpenden PS). 10th November 2016

There are so many different and varied ways to show us London and it's been a favourite subject for photographers ever since developers discovered that the clay basin could, after all, support sky-scrapers. On the night of our second print competition and under the unflappable stewardship of Colin Southgate our judge, we were, in the total entry of nearly 40, treated to no less than six excellent images of our capital. Connie showed us a different take on using reflections on the Gherkin's surface. Terry Day showed us Blackfriars from a low vantage point on the South Bank of which Colin very much approved. The BT Tower which he remarked had now been there for ages was captured from a new angle by Chris Gilbert - perhaps one of the cleverest photographs of the night. Paul Winslow had taken a wide angle shot from high up the Shard which definitely benefitted from the warm evening light and as with many such images when taken in high resolution offered the viewer a really detailed three dimensional map of the city. The absolute stand-outs however were Jeremy's stark treatment of the Walkie Talkie building - a true black and white and Terry again with Millennium Bridge. Perfect positioning filling the image with detail particularly of the structure underneath and the slightly sepia treatment adding to the authenticity somehow.

From the nine images Colin held back, Chris Gilbert's 'Passed its best' - a decomposing pumpkin in which he had helped us see the detail deep inside by using focus stacking to preserve the sharpness throughout - was 3rd. Jeremy's Walkie Scorchie was 2nd. Winner of the night was the most atmospheric 'Come Back Safely To Me' by John Jennings. A parting couple silhouetted against the steam in a softly lit railway station complete with period carriages, clothing and so forth. It is reassuring to see that despite John taking over as Chairman this year it has not adversely effected his photography. Also highly commended were Dean Tyler's coastal shot 'Zig-Zag' and Peter Winters' excellent 'Green Backed Heron.' His equally magnificent Razor Bill getting overlooked somewhat.

Colin managed to say plenty of kind things about everything but still finished a bit earlier than usual. As I have observed before it is always a very comfortable evening with him and most of you must agree as there was a very good turn-out.

Members' Night 3rd November 2016

Our Chairman John Jennings had obtained a DVD of the current images in the London Salon. Due to time restraints it was of course not possible to view them all however one section alone comfortably filled the first half of the evening. The accompanying commentary was very 'arty' but thankfully did not automatically approve of everything, which was a bit of a relief. The standard throughout was extremely high. Indeed the differential in the scoring seemed to have much less to do with pictorial or technical quality than the judges individual preferences as to what was or wasn't in vogue. Your reporter was also most envious of the depth of elaborate artistic detail seemingly at the finger tips of the commentator. Hopefully this was scripted and not made up on the spur of the moment!

Just before the break Dave Hipperson floated his idea of a 'fun' night on 9th Feb for documentary images. Details of this have subsequently been emailed to all members and there will be more information to come.

The second half comprised images recently accepted by a BPE ( British Photographic Exhibitions - opens in a new window). It was enlightening to see that numerous of the rather 'difficult' or 'very arty' images from the London Salon in the first half appeared again and placed substantially lower than more conventional imagery. Indeed the second half seemed a more accessible set being essentially top level club photography.

Tremendous work but it did have a palpably demoralising effect on a number of members. One could empathise with remarks like 'we might as well all give up.' However don't whatever you do give up. Remember the famous words 'There will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself.' To bring that right into perspective only two days later I was inspecting an exhibition by a local photographer of work that was clearly for sale, that being the purpose of the exhibition. Out of about thirty pictures really only two were of a standard that might have been suitable for a Park Street competition evening but probably would still not have done very well. The remainder being well, pretty awful actually. Image my surprise then, when I noticed the prices being asked. Between £80 and £300! By that token we Park Street members could soon be millionaires.

External Competition: Rosebowl Round 1 at Wycombe PS. 27 October 2016

Drawn against 3 very good clubs, Wycombe, Buckingham and Ealing and Hampshire House, we acquitted ourselves well. Buckingham squeezed the win but we finished second equal with Wycombe just 4 points behind. Ealing brought up the rear a further 5 points adrift. Furthermore, Connie was awarded one of the two "starred" images for her excellent "Too and Fro" with Jan Harris of Wycombe collecting the other.

The judge was Aussie Thomson (ImageZ) who we look forward to hosting at Park Street for Round 5 of the print league.

ClubScore      Place
Buckingham2681st
Wycombe2642nd=
Park Street
Ealing and HH      2594th

Talk: RPS Distinctions, given by Mark Buckley-Sharp ARPS CPAGB APAGB on behalf of the Royal Photographic Society.

The RPS offers three levels of Distinctions, which set recognised standards of achievement throughout the world.

Mark's explanations and sample panels made the structure very clear and understandable and illustrated the standard of photography required. He explained that by setting out on the quest to obtain a distinction, a photographer is embarking on a valuable learning process which will inevitably improve his own photography by making him think more deeply and objectively about his work. It was just a little unfortunate that the evening clashed with the first away round of the Rosebowl, so the audience was a little smaller than it would have been otherwise.

PARK STREET'S INTER-CLUB LANDSCAPE COMPETITION. 20th October 2016

Before examining the outcome we must credit the Park Street team controlling the night. Rod Fricker was ably assisted by Martin Wise, Chris Gilbert and David Butler. Not only did they look like they knew what they were doing but they actually did know. This, despite three of them being seconded in at the very last minute when the two that were expected to do the computer duties were stricken with a malady.

There was a fair representation from all eleven competing clubs and Malcolm Rapier from Edmonton attended to judge. Malcolm is a highly experienced and much decorated photographer and throughout the evening made some very keen observations on the images before him and was particularly astute on the subject of composition. He was quite right when he argued that many of the images could have been made even more powerful with some cropping top and bottom. However, despite our very wide definition of a 'scape, land or otherwise it was surprising to see, at this level, at least half a dozen images which simply did not comply. Arguably they should have formed the bottom layer of images well below the 15 that he chose to be his worst, but there were a number of genuine, if slightly less than exciting landscapes, that received the same or lower score as these non-scapes.

Quite quickly it was evident that Malcolm very much enjoyed soft subtle treatments so after already holding back both of Dean Tyler's pictures it was with some excitement that we waited for his pronouncement on Connies' 'Inch Beach'. We were not disappointed - he held that back as well. This eventually gave us two 20's and a 19 with Connie's shot being his favourite of the night. This trio would surely have won by a mile had their efforts not been somewhat scuppered by Ron and Dave's slightly unlucky 15s! However it has to be said that High Wycombe, the eventual winners two points ahead, also had their share of bad luck when Jan Harris's 'Rainbow over Taransay' received a mere 18! They too should have had two more points for that alone.

As an evening of entertainment viewing, that many landscapes can pall a bit. It was therefore very welcome that there were so many city-scapes, which work well because there is always something going on as in the excellent 'Gloucester Road Hong Kong'. There were no less than four images that included the Walkie Talkie building in the City of London including quite the best of all from Richard Wilson of Watford - 'Love in the city'.

It is vital that at club league events judges keep a close rein on their scoring range as to do otherwise can wreak havoc with annual totals. However at a stand alone event the actual score matters not a jot so why on earth not spread them out and avoid such a close finish as this? Indeed why not simplify the maths still further and sharpen the decision making buy scoring 1-6 or possibly even 0 - 6?

Full Results here

1st Wycombe PS108
2ndWatford PS107
=3rd      Northfields CC 106
PSCC
=5thHemel Hempstead PS     105
Potters Bar PS
=7thCroxley CC103
Harpenden PS
9thHarrow CC 102
10thTring CC 100
11thXRR CC 97

St Albans Library Exhibition 2016

34 of the members' prints from the year 2015-2016 were displayed for two weeks at St Albans library recently, and we are grateful to Derek Dixon and Martin Wise for organising this excellent exhibition.

PDI Round 2: Judge - Paul de Silva APAGB. 13th October 2016

For our second projected image competition of the year Paul de Silva from Harpenden came to select. Judges don't have to dress up but it really helps if they do. Colin Southgate is the perfect example of tidy dress matching tidy thinking. Paul de Silva similar. Smart guy, even if he admits he's no youngster. Well in time and looking keen and comfortable. It would be a good night.

With only slightly more than 40 images to consider Paul was able to expand a bit and he always has a lot to say. He was his usual observant self but often able to add a bit of back-story on certain images from his own experience. His comments on Jeremy's Lemur for instance were particularly insightful and amusing. He was serious but never dour. He was light with his comments but never flippant. These are very narrow and tricky lines to tread. The judging art is so much the delivery of the critique and in this regard Paul was exemplary. It was noticeable how careful he was to appreciate that he might be dealing with a beginner and throughout he seemed to be enjoying all the images and showed reluctance to denigrate any - until the scoring that was!

Somewhat idiosyncratic choices of favourites from him although his scoring range was perfect and he had been at pains to point out that it would be his opinions and someone else could well see it another way. He held back eight after scoring the rest up to 17. Jeremy's 'Carnival Queens' and Roger's 'Norfolk Lighthouse' might have been expected to score better. Of the three 20's Chris Gilbert's third placing 'Japanese Anemone' had benefitted immensely from his fine creative ability post production and could have graced a book cover on the subject. Sue H. had been clever with the moment and hence the light in 'Glencoe' and produced a very fine landscape. Paul Winslow's winning 'Lunch Time' had obviously appealed to the judge from his first seeing of it. Taken in monochrome at Covent Garden and from the raised vantage point of a balcony it showed a none too attractive couple eating. It was perhaps not an obvious choice! None the less it was excellent to have another new winner particularly as Paul, an enthusiastic and consistent competitor, does nothing to his images in the computer. His entries are straight from the camera. Others take note, it can be done.

Members' Evening - 6th October 2016

The evening was given over to two excellent talks by members:

Terry Day delivered the Part 2 of his lecture on the early years of photography, Part 1, 1800 to 1924 having been particularly well received last May. Picking up from the introduction of the production of the 35mm Leica, which was probably almost as much a revolution from plate photography as digital from film, Terry first took us on a tour of some of the iconic cameras from the years of film before treating us to a selection of his favourite photographers (such as Ansel Adams, Yousef Karsh and Bill Brandt) and their work. It was fascinating to see how the development of the camera and film affected the photographs that made such an impact on the public at the time.

After the tea break, David Butler treated us to a tour of Yellowstone Park, fascinating both for its remarkable geology and for its wildlife. Occupying over 3,000 square miles, mainly in Wyoming but with a foot in Montana and a toe in Idaho, and at heights of between 5,000 ft and 11,000 ft, it was the world's first national park, opened in 1872, astonishingly only a year after the idea was first proposed. Geologically speaking, it is an active volcano with a remarkably thin skin and some 500 geysers are the result of the intense heat so close to the surface. It was fascinating to see the way trees have responded to the varying temperatures, as in places fully grown trees have been killed off by a local increase in temperature and/or mineral exposure. The wildlife is equally interesting, with grizzly and black bears, wolves, bison and elk in abundance. David illustrated his talk with some excellent photos and I think a number of members will be adding a visit to Yellowstone to their bucket lists.

Open Prints, Round 1. Judge: Martin Patten - 29 September 2016

Judge Martin Patten returned to Park Street for Round 1 of the print league, to find strength in both quantity and quality of images. He explained very clearly what he liked about each image, what he felt were its strengths and then discussed what was holding it back and what might be done about it. As well as the usual advice about cropping, whether to improve the overall composition or to eliminate a distraction, he talked about the choice of matt, gloss or lustre paper as well as the subtle use of HDR when faced with an exposure range beyond the camera's capability. Chris Gilbert's Grass Flower was Commended with a score of 19, and Martin described it as artistic and beautifully done, but just not quite maintaining sharpness over the whole flower.

Four images scored 20, with Dean Tyler's Stepping Stones to Serenity being Highly Commended. The judge felt that, good as it was, the composition could be improved a little. A typical Connie image, Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsular was 3rd: for Martin it was a lovely piece of art but people would really bring it to life. Another of Dean's images, Surf Trails, Southwold, was narrowly beaten into 2nd: Martin described it as using exactly the right shutter speed to show movement and detail in the surf and said that the slightly blue cast gave him the feeling of a chilly day which suited the image well.

Describing John Jennings winning image, Bat Out of Hell, Martin pointed out that there was absolutely nothing sharp anywhere in the image, the rider's head was cut off and so was the front wheel, but that it was unusual, brave and conveyed exactly the feeling of a vintage motorbike going fast.

AN EVENING WITH ANDY SANDS - 22 September 2016

We at Park Street Camera Club are indeed fortunate in having someone of Andy Sands calibre living so close and willing to come and talk to us about his photographic exploits. His understanding of the insect world is legendary but this year he concentrated mostly on birds for the first half of the evening and fungi for the second half.

His ability with a camera coupled with an extensive knowledge of where and when to look for subjects produces very high quality images. He amused us all however by recounting reactions to some of them by various camera club judges going to the extent of acting out little scenarios in front of the screen. He said he was still smarting from his results at the first competition of the year at his own club (XRR). He declined to tell us the name of judge in question.

His birds included some quite rare creatures including the minute Redstart which I don't think some of us had seen before. Having done so much macro insect work it was no surprise to see his preference for the very small species. He did allow an Owl to make an appearance though thanks to his daughter Skyla's insistence on having one on her arm whist Andy was visiting a bird sanctuary. Skyla is now four and looking very grown up and photogenic in the pictures he showed us. Although she was also willing to get very close to a magnificent Stag Beatle - for scale effect you understand - Andy reported that she refused to have that particular one put on her arm.

His Fungi section was equally interesting, particularly Andy's explanation of trips out to find rare species - walking for miles with no luck - then having the Warden turn up just as they were leaving and directing them to a spot where is was only a couple of yards from the car park! As I have mentioned before his humour is very infectious and the fact that you could invariably see the punch line coming this and his timing seemed to make his anecdotes all the more amusing.

We appreciate that he has lived and breathed these subjects since he was a very young lad but it is still astonishing to hear him word perfect on the names of everything that appeared on the screen all from memory. All you have to remember now is to definitely come to see him at Park Street when he visits with more pictures and stories next year.

Park Street's First PDI Competition of the Year. Judge: Alan Colegrave - 15 September 2016

This was the first serious event of the season. Entries were healthy (56) but attendance was a bit down possibly because of the rather debilitating hot, sticky conditions which had produced some heavy downpours and local flooding. The judge Alan Colegrave reported 'quite deep water in Watford' but he soldiered through it and arrived well in time!

Alan is a member of Amersham as well as Harrow and has close connections with the film and TV world. He has indeed produced quite a few little movies and numerous AVs of his own. His taste tends to be towards dramatic images but he is very conscious of good lighting techniques and he always suprises with his favourites on any one evening. In other words he is not stuck in any particular rut. He also made the very valid point that large numbers of images all in one group are quite difficult for a judge to assimilate and then shuffle into a mental order. (This is why beginner, intermediate and advance categories breaking up the numbers are so useful.) So perhaps for this reason he can be forgiven for bunching the scores a bit. The general standard was down slightly for Park Street and a few of the images should have received lower marks than they did. Alan was being his usual kindly self. Furthermore you could detect a slight leaning towards 'degree of difficulty' in his remarks. This of course has, officially, no place in the judging procedure but is in practice what happens. It is an impossible aspect to entirely ignore.

Someone once said you only know you are big-time when your non-appearance is newsworthy. So it was that this evening the surprise was that current Photographer of the Year did not enter! She (one Cornelia Fitzgerald) confided that she had brought a printer and was going with that this year unless there were any outstanding mages that would enhance a PDI evening. I bet it's a fantastic printer!

From the starters Alan condensed a handful down to a convenient nine photographs which fitted well onto our final screen. It's always a relief, especially for the judge, to see the final images when they all look so good! Two images were unlucky to be dropped out with 18 at this stage, Rosemary Wenzerul's 'Platform Eight' (homage to Fiona Gurr's 'Lonely Commuter' of last year) and Chris Gilbert's 'Preacher', an image very strong in content - pity. Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell's 'Romance of Steam' scored 19 and all the remainder were awarded 20s including 'Canoes on Lake Vyrnwy' and 'Kite on Patrol' from Sue Hipperson giving her the highest total of the evening.

Against early expectation John Jennings, our new Chairman's lovely portrait of 'Sarah', placed only third. It would have been my favourite - very complex light well handled plus character and expression. Stunning. David Butler came second with a most atmospheric piece of antique industrial photography - very different from anything else on show this night. The winning image was from Dave Hipperson's collection of pictures taken a few months ago on a trip around Spain. 'Windmill at Mota Cuerva'. This was the first time he has won an individual award since joining Park Street three years ago - and him a judge too. Blimey!


Exhibition at St Stephens Gardening Club Annual Show

The club exhibited a number of members' photos at the annual Gardening Club show at How Wood School on 3rd September and attracted quite a bit of interest. The prints were chosen from those still available from the Print of the Year competition at the end of last season, and we are grateful to the authors for the loan of their work.

So Sad, Mr Fox and Golden Eagle by Ron Brown
Rope Factory Chatham Dockyard and Millennium Bridge by Terry Day
Apple Sandwich by Derek Dixon
Crashing Waterfall, The Dales, Bottles and Semi-glazed Cherries by Connie Fitzgerald
Blitz, Svalbard and Christmas Robin by Jeremy Fraser Mitchell
Goose Herding, Junior Beefeater and Impatiens Aricita by Chris Gilbert
Remembrance and Curls by John Jennings
Chainmaker, When I'm Calling You and Peek a Boo by Paul Winslow
Juvenile Male Kingfisher and Male Sparrowhawk by Peter Winter

John Jennings

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